The US Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights logged a record nearly 19,000 discrimination complaints in the last fiscal year from October 1, 2021 to September 30, 2022, a media report said.
The number is more than double the previous year’s and breaks the record of 16,000 filed in fiscal year 2016, Xinhua news agency quoted The New York Times report published on Sunday.
“The latest indicator of how the social and political strife roiling the country is reverberating in the nation’s schools,” the newspaper said, noting that the surge reversed the decline in complaints filed to the office under the administration of former President Donald Trump.
Officials say the complaints — most alleging discrimination based on disability, race or sex — reflect grievances that amassed during the worst public health crisis in a century and the most divisive civil rights climate in decades, according to the report.
“The complaints were logged as schools struggled to recover from pandemic-related closures, and add to the declining test scores and growing mental health challenges that display the fragility in large parts of the country’s education system,” it said.
“It reflects the confidence in the Office for Civil Rights as a place to seek redress… At the same time, the scope and volume of harm that we’re asking our babies to navigate is astronomical,” the report quoted Catherine Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights, as saying.